Friday, 8 February 2013

The Ultimate In Diabolism

‘Die, Monster, Die!’ is terribly slow for an hour, before bursting into life with a bizarre and over the top finale. Loosely based on the H.P Lovecraft story ‘The Colour Out Of Space’ , it begins with an American scientist arriving in Arkham, here transplanted from the original New England to the shires in England. He gets the usual sub-zero welcome from a series of suspicious locals who shudder when he mentions that he is on his way to the old Whitley place, and refuse to give him directions.  He makes his own way there, finding a large stately home set on a ‘blasted heath’, i.e. an eerie burned wood with a huge crater. Clearly, something interesting has happened here – shame no-one wants to talk about it.
The scientist, Reinhart (played by unhappy Hollywood hanger on Nick Adams) is visiting his fiancée, Susan, but, as usual, the in-laws are a bit odd.  Dad is Boris Karloff, hostile, angry, secretive and prone to zooming around in his wheelchair after midnight. Mum is slowly dying of some disfiguring disease, and spends her days hidden behind a curtain. On meeting her prospective son in law she gives him such useful some advice – to get out, now, and take Susan with him – naturally, he decides to stick around for a bit.
What follows is a mix of haunted house film and weird sci fi, i.e. there are rubber bats on string and skeletons on gibbets but there is also a big chunk of radioactive meteorite that is making everyone mental and ill, as well as a greenhouse full of massive tomatoes, killer plants and a horrible menagerie of mutated animals (‘it's like a zoo – in hell’).
In an unexpectedly energetic finale, Karloff falls across the meteorite and turns into a silver foil covered radioactive killing machine. It’s pretty cool, especially when Reinhart starts throwing axes at him. The meteorite is smashed, the house burns down, the in-laws die and the young lovers escape to start what will almost certainly be a married life lived in the shadow of the horribly tragic and fucked up way they got together. H.P Lovecraft would have liked that.  


  1. Two words, writ large: "GLOWING KARLOFF"
    "Nuff said!

  2. If the presence of Karloff might be enough, allow me to recommend his penultimate film "Targets". It's odd...yet it's also actually quite good and his turn at comedy is, by itelf, enough to make it worth watching.
    On a thoughtful level, its last scene with Karloff-as-action-star also has an engaging take on horror versus reality.
    It's a good little film which was shot on a shoe-string budget and features good acting and pacing, VERY competent direction (by first-timer Peter Bogdonovich), and a charming old gentleman playing himself. ***+